Maryland Governor Passes Civil Forfeiture Reform and Licensing Reform in Two Weeks

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed into law two reforms advancing economic liberty and property rights this month, as The Washington Post highlights:

“Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday became the latest state leader to sign contentious legislation restricting civil asset forfeiture — the process that allows police to seize and keep property suspected of being connected to illegal activity without having to convict, or even charge, the owner with a crime.”

Governor Hogan, who vetoed a forfeiture reform bill last year, has joined a national trend of opposition to the act of policing for profit. Over 100 editorials have already been written calling for an end to civil forfeiture, while several state legislatures have introduced reform bills. Nebraska recently voted to abolish the practice altogether, and federal legislation has now been introduced in Congress.

IJ Managing Attorney Lee McGrath commended the governor for joining the fight against civil forfeiture:

“The support for forfeiture reform is more than bipartisan.  From the Drug Policy Alliance to the Cato Institute, every public policy institution across the political spectrum wants to end the financial incentives for policing for profit.  Only those who receive this corrupting-inducing loot defend the current state and federal forfeiture laws”.

The Post recognizes the Institute for Justice’s long standing opposition to civil forfeiture, as well as burdensome occupational licensing laws. Shortly before singing the forfeiture reform, Governor Hogan also signed a bill relaxing the licensing requirements for blowout salons, allowing licenses to be obtained after 350 hours of training (previously up to 1,500). Another article notes that this is something IJ has pointed out in the past:

“Yet Maryland’s hair-care licensing rules were in fact relatively permissive even before the new law, according to a 2012 study by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian think tank. In Iowa, for example, you need 2,100 hours for a cosmetology license; by contrast, Massachusetts requires only 1,000.”

While it is a step in the right direction, McGrath is cautious about given this bill too much credit:

“The Post is overly celebratory about Maryland’s establishing a license for blow-dry practitioners.  Requiring anyone to go to school for 350 hours to gain the state’s permission to provide a risk-free service is absurd.  Although less burdensome than a full-blown cosmetology license, it is still an unnecessary barrier to practitioners  that benefits cosmetology schools at the expense of people reaching for the first rung of the economic ladder.”

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